While its recent trip to San Francisco was a team-building experience, the men’s basketball team (4-2) showed that it still has some work to do after splitting its two games over the holiday weekend. It has a chance to get back on track tonight against LIU Brooklyn (0-4).
After beating Wayland Baptist 75-63 on Friday, the Lions fell to the University of San Francisco 79-59 on Saturday. The Lions were outrebounded by 12 and converted on only 35 percent of their field goal attempts—the Dons hit over half their shots—and Lion forwards collectively made only six of their 18 shots.
Head coach Kyle Smith said that Columbia could have used its frontcourt more than it did in the loss.
“We were running a good offense to start, but we got away from that,” senior guard Brian Barbour said.
This season, excluding a blowout win over Division III Haverford, the team is shooting 42 percent, down from last year. Opponents are also converting at 42 percent against Columbia, up from 40 percent last year.
“We’ve got to focus a little more on ourselves, focus on our execution, and not worry so much about what other people do,” Smith said, adding that he thought the weekend was a good experience for the team.
Smith also said that because the games in California were on consecutive days, fatigue may have been a factor in the loss.
“We were a little flat,” Barbour said. “I think they wanted it a little bit more than we did.”
With a few days to rest, the team should be better prepared to face Long Island’s strong offense, which has averaged nearly 80 points per game this season. Last year, the Lions had three days off before defeating the Blackbirds, 63-53, notching their seventh win in a row.
A big factor in that win was earning points off of turnovers. Columbia scored 20 points in posessions immediately following Long Island’s 23 turnovers, while allowing only three points off of 12 turnovers. This year’s senior class led the way, with Barbour, center Mark Cisco, and forward John Daniels all scoring in double figures.
Like Villanova, which Columbia beat 75-57 last week, LIU Brooklyn is a recent NCAA Division I tournament participant. The Blackbirds are two-time Northeast Conference champions, but have struggled to get off the ground so far this year.
A big reason why is their schedule strength. Long Island had close losses to Lafayette and Morehead State—its first home loss since Dec. 2, 2010—and blowout losses to two top basketball programs, Maryland and No. 8 Kentucky.
In that game, forwards Jamal Olasewere and Julian Boyd tied for the scoring lead with 22 points. Olasewere also scored a game-high 18 points in the Lions’ win in Manhattan last year.
Tipoff is at 7 p.m. in Brooklyn.